By Wes Bloomquist
The Duncan Banner
LAWTON — A goal line stop with 10 seconds remaining clinched a 14-6 North win Saturday at the Southwest Oklahoma Senior Bowl in Cameron Stadium in Lawton.
“It was amazing,” Rush Springs’ offensive tackle Jared Bratcher said. “To go out with a win was perfect.”
The North’s win avenged last year’s 21-14 loss at the hands of the South.
The game ended the high school football careers of area players, but gave them one last opportunity at gridiron glory.
Representing the North, Duncan’s Casey Miller and Jared Smith both put on good efforts. Miller was involved in tackles on the defensive side of the ball, while Smith’s name was sent through the stadium speakers throughout the game. Smith deep snapped on field goals and punts, kicked off and played wide receiver.
In the offensive sets, Smith’s speed was on showcase as he found himself being the target of the North’s quarterbacks on deep passes. The outgoing senior scored on a 52-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Smith was sent on a wheel-route, that gave him separation from the defensive back. Hobart quarterback Reggy Yount delivered the pass, which Smith ran 20 yards to the end zone with yards after the catch.
“It was real exciting,” Smith said. “I was wide open and he found me. All I had to do was catch it and then get past the defenders to get to the end zone. There was a lot of speed out there, but I was able to get to the end zone.”
Smith had scored on an apparent 48-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but the play was called back on an illegal man down field penalty.
“You can’t blame them,” Smith said. “They’re only linemen, after all.”
From Rush Springs, Bratcher, Chase Nichols and Andrew Moreno all competed for the North.
Nichols came up with a nine-yard sack for a loss in the fourth, after pursuing the South’s quarterbacks all game from the defensive end position.
“It was fun going up against the big-school players,” Nichols said. “My lineman thought I was going outside, but I slipped inside to get a clear path. After that I had a straight shot to the quarterback.”
Marlow’s contingent of players consisted of David Reynolds, Landon Collins, Dent Dysart, Thomas Bruner and Tyler Nunley.
Reynolds played a strong game at strong safety, while Collins was a fixture on the offense at wide receiver. Nunley and Bruner each had good experiences, too. At quarterback, Dysart alternated with two other players but was able to connect on several pass attempts. Dysart was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter after breaking his collarbone. Still, it was all smiles after the game.
“The players were a lot bigger than I was used to,” Dysart said. “But we held our own throughout the game. It was a lot of fun.”
The South’s roster was chock full of Comanche Indians. With Jared Pitts and Sam Smith working in the trenches and quarterback Blake Birchfield running the offense for most of the game, the CHS program was well represented. Eli Alvarado was also a fixture for the South at defensive back and on special teams.
Birchfield displayed his talents at the position by connecting on passes, but also using his speed to scramble for the South. Birchfield ran for a 22-yard gain in the fourth quarter to help put the South in scoring position. He also connected on a 24-yard pass to Cache’s Caleb Adams.
The pass put the South at the 1-yard line with 15 seconds remaining, but a run attempt was snuffed out by the North’s defensive line. With no time outs remaining, all Birchfield and the South could do was watch as the final seconds ticked away in the game.
“It was kind of depressing,” Birchfield said. “We came so close to making the comeback, but came up short.
“It was an exciting game. There were some really good players here, so I was just trying to complete a couple of passes and trying not to get killed.”
Altus’ Reagan Vaughan scored all of the South’s points. Vaughan connected on field goals in the first and fourth quarters for the six points.
Prior to Smith’s touchdown for the North, Lawton High’s Malachi Wallace scored the first touchdown of the game. While the South was waiting for a punt to roll to a complete stop, Wallace crept into the huddle and picked up the ball. He scampered 72 yards for a North touchdown.
By Wes Bloomquist
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